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Experts say $6.2bn could be added to NZ’s GDP by more cloud technology use.
Thousands of small business owners are missing out on a raft of ways to save time, money and make their companies easier to manage, according to experts.
While online accounting firm Xero’s invoicing and payroll options are well known to business owners, plenty aren’t aware the company also offers connection to an array of apps that can automate other parts of their business – as well as extend its operation into online sales.
The company has more than 800 apps in their ecosystem that offer additional functionality to a Xero account; they can be used to automate mundane and complex tasks and make the business of doing business easier.
Joanne Stanyer, director of strategy APAC at Xero, says many business owners know they need help to streamline and expand their companies but aren’t sure how to do it or where to start.
“Our ecosystem of apps is helping many businesses transfer their bricks & mortar retail operations to online – a boon during Covid-19 lockdowns as more people turn to their computer to order what they need.
“The great thing is, the apps can be connected to a Xero account and their functionality expanded as a business scales up. You pay monthly for each app, so business owners are in full control. They are not locked in.”
According to research by the firm, businesses using Xero and its suite of apps fared better than firms that didn’t during recent lockdowns. Xero’s Pandemic Insights Report found that at Covid-19’s peak in 2020, small business revenues fell by 40 per cent in New Zealand.
However, firms using Xero’s cloud-based software experienced revenue declines and job losses of only 12 per cent.
“The restrictions of not being able to go to the office during lockdowns has helped people see the benefits of cloud-based services,” says Stanyer. “During Covid we have seen numerous business start-ups that have placed their operations in the cloud from the get-go.”
Cloud-based software and data are stored in remote locations with back-ups – rather than at a business owner’s office, on their PC, tablet, or phone. It means that, should a business owner’s device be lost or become faulty, any other device with an internet connection can be used to securely access a client’s Xero account [with the correct user name and password].
“Companies are future-proofing their business by running them on the cloud,” says Stanyer.
Among them are business support platforms created during Covid-19: Manaaki [ https://www.manaaki.io/ ] and SOS Business [ https://sosbusiness.nz/ ] – connecting Kiwis with expert advice of local businesses.
Xero’s apps all provide what Stanyer calls a ‘push-pull’ system for data transfer – so the user’s accounts are kept up to date with each data entry and transaction.
“Xero apps talk to each other and there is a real efficiency around that,” she says.
“Generally there is an app for every kind of need a business owner might have. It doesn’t matter if the company is a sole trader or a much larger enterprise with a range of requirements.”
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research estimates that, if 20 per cent more business owners adopted cloud-based technology, the resulting efficiencies and cost savings would contribute up to $6.2 billion to New Zealand’s annual GDP.
For those who aren’t confident when it comes to selecting the best apps for the job or configuring them to work perfectly, then help is at hand.
“We have a dedicated team of people we call App Integrators who listen to what a client needs, suggests the best apps and can set them up to work with the client’s Xero account if required,” says Stanyer.
“There is such a strong need for a small business to get the right information on what they could use. App Integrators are on hand to recommend the right tools to future-proof their businesses, get the apps talking to each other, and provide training on how to use them.”